Say what you will about David Miscavige, there’s no arguing that the man is very, very clever. As demonstration of this, let’s consider the latest international push to turn every Scientology org in the world into an Ideal Org.
HCOPL 12 March 1975, Data Series 40, THE IDEAL ORG, describes just such an org. To quote the second line of the PL, “It would have enough space in which to train, process and administrate without crowding.”
The rest of the PL talks about the activities that should be going on within that adequate space. DM, one supposes, has taken it upon himself to see that the space requirement is taken care of around the world. Therein lies a stroke of genius. But to fully appreciate this masterstroke a little background is needed.
In past decades Sweden had a fairly buzzing Scientology field. It had orgs in its largest cities: Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, and still does, though these orgs are nowhere near as busy as they once were. The Ideal Org program is meant to change all that.
In Malmö, for example, the org used to be located right on the city’s central square, kitty corner from the city hall. On the other side of the square was the train station and as you can imagine, the foot traffic was thunderous. Central squares are a prime feature of European city planning and you cannot find a busier place in any city. Add one of the country’s major rail hubs and you’ve got a prime dissemination spot for Scientology. And, in decades past, the org staff did just that. It was like shooting fish in a barrel to sell DMSMH. Put a couple of cute Swedish girls in mini skirts down at the train station and the businessmen coming off the trains were putty. Literally tens of thousands of DMSMH’s were sold and the CF went from around 3,000 to 36,000 in a period of a couple years, where it remains today.
And speaking of today, Malmö is now basically a walking-street city. Several years ago a bridge opened that connected Malmö with Copenhagen, about 15 miles across the water in Denmark. The central area is all walking streets and they are flooded with people, many of then Danes who come across for shopping (and better weather). An informal one-minute test recently counted 120 pedestrians passing one random intersection. Suffice it to say that from the viewpoint of LRH in his Ideal Org PL, you would have a hard time finding a better location for an org.
The new Ideal Org Malmö that was showcased at the 2009 LRH Birthday Event in March, unfortunately is no longer located on the central square and, truth be told, it is no longer even located in Malmö. No, this Ideal Org is located in an industrial suburb of Malmö called Arlöv. An old sugar factory has been converted into the new org building.
The street it is located on has zero foot traffic. Zero. In trying to locate it, two people on a street corner were asked if they knew where the street was and they didn’t know. Yet it was literally one street away.
Driving up to the factory complex, of which the new org is now a part, leads one to a booth outside a gate, which has a sign reading “Reception.” No, it’s not the org Reception but the entrance to another factory on the same street. Asking for directions at the booth to the new org is answered by the “Receptionist” along with the crack, “Are you going there to get brainwashed?” (So much for the line in the Ideal Org PL, “And the PR Area Control would be such that no one would dream of threatening it.” This guy is not 200 meters from the front door of the org and warns every person who asks for directions!)
The building and its decor is impressive, maybe for a marketing agency that caters to the defense industry or high tech cars. It is imposing and somewhat cold, but that may be one visitor’s opinion who sees Scientology as being a human or thetan based activity and not a MEST activity.
At any rate, the new org is definitely THERE. And very posh. And now we get to the genius behind the man who put it there. This building was purchased through donations wrung out of Swedish Scientologists. Millions of Swedish Kroners. Many millions (the exchange rate is currently about 7.5 Kr to the US Dollar). International Scientology so far as is known did not put up any of the money to buy the building. Likewise, the renovations were paid for from donations by Swedish Scientologists. Many probably contributed their company’s materials and others likely offered their labor, donations of a different kind but donations nonetheless, none of which cost Int Management a dime. In other words, local Scientologists got behind the program and put up a very posh building. It probably didn’t cost Int anything beyond some planning CSWs and whatever Sherri James charges for her designs. Yet, the Landlord Office of Int Management owns the building. A multi-million dollar property has been added to the Int Reserves stat for a pittance.
Sure, all you cynics say, but it’s located miles from where the people are and if they try to find the place the only person who knows where the org is spews criticism full time.
Hmmmmmm. Maybe you’ve got a point here. Maybe the idea ISN’T to build an organization dedicated to, again quoting from the PL, “The ideal org would be an activity where people came to achieve freedom and where they had confidence they would attain it.” Maybe the model being followed here isn’t the ideal that many old timers nostalgically recall with crowded org courserooms and people auditing out on the lawn. Maybe the model being imitated by DM is the one used by one of the most successful real estate corporations in the world, McDonald’s. Oh, you though Mickey D’s was a hamburger franchise? No, McDonald’s is a real estate corporation (according to the book McDonald’s: Behind The Arches) and the poison they foist on the public is really a sideline.
And here is where we find DM’s brilliance: if the Malmö staff (with the help of a 4 man garrison mission from CMO Int) actually builds a successful org despite zero foot traffic and a Black PR environment, great. If they fail and the staff leave and the org shrivels down to nothing, DM, in the person of the Int Landlord Office, still has a really nice building that he can sell for millions that didn’t cost him a dime.
This same scenario is playing out elsewhere. The new “Dallas” org is located in a lonely business park way out in Irving, Texas. The Joburg org is out in the sticks, comfortably away from the mass of humanity who desperately need the solutions Scientology could offer. The tiny field in Norway is being hounded to come up with $20 million for its “Ideal Org,” and has a target date by the end of 2010. Let’s hope they find a building somewhere in town and not above the Arctic Circle where there is only snowshoe traffic.
Yet, the promise of OT IX and OT X are mighty big carrots DM is holding out there and the OT VIIIs have deep pockets, the ones who aren’t in debt anyways. (By the way, how come LRH PLs harp about orgs not going into debt to the banks, but the orgs think it is okay for individual Scientologists to drown in debt?) One wonders, though, that the carrots may be getting it bit limp after all this time. One hears rumors of discontent brewing in the ranks, but that is something the OT VIIIs will have to sort out among themselves and decide what to do.
OT VIIIs aside, with his Ideal Org strategy, there’s really no way DM can lose. If the org makes it, he wins. If the org fails, he sells the building and still wins. Smart. Also smart is the impact these posh new buildings have on the main management stat.
The single overriding statistic of International Management is Sea Org Reserves, and the largest part of those reserves consists of the property owned by the church. Now, since the real estate bubble burst in 2007, one can imagine that the SOR stat has taken a big hit. Well, there is a way around that, too: employ a real estate appraiser full time to pin artificially inflated values to the church’s property on a quarterly basis and pro-rate these values on a weekly basis. Presto! one has a continually rising Sea Org Reserves stat.
This is the one statistic running counter to the rest of Int stats, contrary to what is touted at events or by church spokespersons. A detailed study of long term international statistics undertaken in 2000 showed that stats went on a continuous rise throughout the 1980s and peaked in June 1990, when they started an equally stable but reverse downtrend and marched downwards the entire decade to the same levels as they had been in 1980. Presumably, the downtrend has continued since, with the exception of the Gross Booksales stat.
From the perspective of field Scientologists, who would like to see the orgs make it, and from the viewpoint of LRH as written in HCOPL Planetary Dissemination, which says that the greatest part of Scientology’s dissemination efforts should be directed to the raw public, one has to conclude that a dumpster in Malmo’s central square sees more foot traffic in a day than the new Arlöv -- er, Malmö -- Ideal Org sees in a month. Maybe the same can’t be said of all the other new org buildings, but that’s not the main point here.
So, let’s turn the discussion to a different, less MEST-oriented model for Scientology, which will be the subject of another article. As a hint of how it might go, here’s a quote directly from the LRH lecture, “The Genus of Dianetics and Scientology”
"We own a tremendous amount of property. We own a tremendous amount of material, and so forth. And it keeps growing. But that’s not important. When buildings get important to us, for God’s sake, some of you born revolutionists, will you please blow up central headquarters. If someone had put some HE [high explosives]under the Vatican long ago, Catholicism might still be going. Don’t get interested in real estate. Don’t get interested in the masses of buildings, because that’s not important.
"What is important is how much service you can give the world and how much you can get done and how much better you can make things. These are important things. These are all that are important. A bank account never measured the worth of a man. His ability to help measured his worth and that is all. A bank account can assist one to help but where it ceases to do that it becomes useless."
Written by Joe Howard